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"Why Coronavirus Is Hitting African American Communities the Hardest"

Spectrum One's “Inside the Issues” program interviewed Chandra Ford, director of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health and associate professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, on data from public health officials that shows African Americans suffering at a higher rate than other races. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Although there is still so much medical professionals don’t know about COVID-19, preliminary data throughout the country point to racial disparities in the pandemic.

Recent Southern California numbers show African Americans account for 15 percent of the novel coronavirus-related illnesses and deaths, despite the fact that they only make up 9 percent of Los Angeles County’s population. Dr. Chandra Ford, Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health and Sciences at UCLA and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice and Health, tells Inside the Issues that, initially, data didn’t seem to suggest high rates of illness in African American communities.

“In Los Angeles when we first started getting data, the data suggested that the highest rates of COVID-19 infection were actually occurring in the wealthier communities and that seemed premature to me and my colleagues,” she said. “In part because testing was not widely available to everyone and that seemed to reflect people who had access to testing and people who had traveled abroad.”